Month: December 2012

Sugar Sugar (Sucre-à-la-Crème / Maple Fudge)

Reasons to make this fudge: Because I don’t celebrate Christmas. Because I love candy. Because I am Québécoise. Because this is my favorite thing in the world to eat. Because I’ve never made it before. Because I like to be challenged. Because edible gifts are the best kind of gifts. Because I have a new thermometer. 
Because I wanted to. 
Just because. 
This fudge is a traditional Quebecois recipe that I’ve been wanting to attempt for quite some time. Unfortunately, I’ve always been intimidated by any recipe that calls for a thermometer, as I’ve had a few caramel disasters in the past. (Caramel melting the bowl to the bottom of the microwave, caramel burning to the pot, caramel burning my hand, caramel burning my tongue, caramel burning…) 
Leaving the past in the past, I now feel confident enough in the kitchen to consider myself somewhere between novice and expert, and definitely ready for a challenge. And when my challenge is presented in a way that makes it look easy, well I just have to take it on.
Just before slipping into a food coma from all of my holiday indulgences, I watched as Chuck Hughes came on television and demonstrated just how simple this traditional fudge is to make. Texting myself the ingredients as I listened (because, you know, paper and pens are sooo 2005), I knew I had to rush home and make this stuff. As soon as humanly possible. 
And then again a second time. 
You know, for gifts. 
Traditional Sucre-a-la-Creme 
(French Canadian Maple Fudge)
recipe adapted from the Food Network’s Chuck Hughes
note: the original recipe calls for one tbsp of butter. I found my fudge to be a little on the greasy side and believe that it should be done with less. I also omitted the pecans, as I wanted a more traditional variety. 
what you’ll need
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup 35% cream
½ cup sugar
½  cup maple syrup
½  tsp butter
Pinch sea salt

how to do it
Line an 8” x 8”square pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil.
In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cream, sugar, maple syrup, butter and salt and bring to a boil, stirring with a heatproof spatula. Simmer over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 237 degrees F (114 degrees C). Add the vanilla extract without stirring.
Prepare a bowl large enough to fit the saucepan into. Fill with cold water and ice.
Once the candy reaches 237 degrees, place the pan immediately into a cold water bath. Cool, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 113 degrees F (45 degrees C), about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the water bath. Using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until the mixture begins to lighten in color and become creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not over-whip, as the sugar and cream mixture will harden before you have time to pour it into the pan.


Petits Délices (vanilla pots de creme with brown sugar caramel)


Mouth watering. Impressive. Unbelievably simple. Creamy. Refreshing. Amazing. 
Need more adjectives? Try out the recipe and come up with your own! Thanks to Lisa over at Bites of Sweetness for her inspiration. 

Vanilla Pots-de-Creme
with Brown Sugar Caramel

what you’ll need
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
seeds from one vanilla bean (optional, but worth it)
1/3 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp water
 how to do it
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, honey and vanilla until thickened. Slowly pour the warm cream into the yolks while whisking to temper the yolks. Continue pouring a little at a time until well blended, then transfer to a large measuring cup.
Evenly pour the mixture into ramekins, place in a deep roasting pan and fill the pan half way up the sides of the ramekins with water. Bake for 30-35 minutes until they are only a little wobbly (only one or two ripples when you shake the pan.)
Leave to cool in pan, then remove ramekins and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. If refrigerating longer, allow to fully cool and then cover with plastic wrap.
Caramel sauce: Heat brown sugar and water in small saucepan over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble. Stir often with a heatproof spatula until desired consistency is reached. Pour over cooled pots-de-creme and serve. 

Big Sweet Easy (Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sumac)


what you’ll need
1 large sweet potato, about 1.5 cups, cubed
1 tsp coarse ground sea salt
1 tsp coarse ground peppercorns
1 tbsp ground sumac
1 tbsp grapeseed or light olive oil

how to do it
Preheat oven to 400F. Toss sweet potato cubes with oil and spices. Wrap in parchment paper (papillote/envelope style) and place in baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool about 15 minutes before serving. 

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (Cinnadoodle Cookies)






This year, I had the most wonderful opportunity to participate in the 2nd annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I was the lucky recipient of a box of absolutely addictive cinnamon swirl cookies from Dana over at Hot Pink Apron. I also received 2 boxes of chocolate chip “World Peace” cookies (from two different bloggers, and one huge coincidence!) IF YOU SENT THESE TO ME, PLEASE CONTACT ME! I’d like to link to you on my blog, and I’ve somehow lost the folder that I had put your letters/contact info into! 

So when this whole swap started, I felt as though the pressure was on for me – make something amazing that I haven’t yet blogged? Generally, if I’ve made something amazing in the past, it’s been blogged in a Montreal Minute. Except for one thing – my Cinnadoodles! Vanilla-almond cookies coated in cinnamon sugar. You read that correctly. Vanilla. Almond. Cinnamon. Go ahead, wipe the drool off your chin. This is some seriously good stuff. The main reason that I haven’t yet blogged these addictive little buggers is simply ’cause they haven’t lasted more than 24 hours in my apartment! I actually had to package and hide the boxes that I was sending away in fear that they’d be gobbled up before I awoke the next morning. 

A little note that I discovered while baking for the challenge: this recipe does NOT multiply well. I’ve made it countless times, and it’s always worked for me, but the first attempt at tripling it, was the biggest baking flop I’ve had in a long time. So please, go and make these, they are delicious and cute and perfect with tea or all on their own. But don’t alter the measurements. (Oh, but if you must, triple all of the ingredients, except the flour – use 2.25 cups.)

Oh, and did I mention how they’re oh-so-seasonally appropriate with their super sparkly crispy outsides and ooey gooey almondy insides? Well they are. Which also makes them the perfect gift. I truly hope that my three recipients appreciated them as much as I enjoyed mine!



Cinnadoodle Cookies
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg

1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp coarse ground sea salt

For the coating: 1/4 cup semi-coarse ground sugar mixed with 1/4 cup ground cinnamon

how to do it
Preheat oven to 400F. Combine oil, sugar and egg. Using electric mixer, beat until light in colour. Add extracts, mixing well. In seperate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Slowly fold in flour mixture into sugar and oil mixture. Dough will be very sticky. Refrigerate mixtue for about an hour, or overnight. Once it is cold, form into walnut-size balls and roll generously in sugar coating. 

Place the cookies a few inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Cool on pan for 1 minute, then transfer to cooling rack.

Mediterranian Escape (Couscous with Kale and Feta)

Cheese – it’s my biggest weakness. Cheese is the reason I haven’t been able to stay on vegan wagon. Cheese is also the reason that I look forward to coming home after work. There’s something so comforting about letting a nice piece of aged cheddar melt on my tongue. Have you ever tasted a dish and thought to yourself “Mm, this is good, but it could use a little something!” HOLD THAT SALT SHAKER! I’ve seen so many people just salt up their bland dishes. You’re doing it wrong. My friends, cheese is often the answer to those blah-dish-woes.

Feta cheese in particular has a special place in my heart – growing up, my mother often made Greek-style salads to go along with our summer meals – the saltiness created a perfect balance with the acidic tomatoes and the refreshing cucumbers. Unfortunately, feta has always been salad-zoned in my kitchen. I’ve always found that the salt and the strong taste often overpower other flavours, so I’ve shyed away from using it in anything other than, well, a salad!

And then, this recipe came to me in the most recent issue of Canadian Living: curried spinach and kale hand pies with feta. An interesting combination, I thought, so I tried them out – omitting the turmeric and replacing it with cinnamon.  My, oh my, what a pie! Unfortunately, I miscalculated the amount of greens mixture that I needed for the filling, and found myself with a pretty substantial bowl of spinach and cheese mixture that I couldn’t bear to toss. So I kept it, thinking the leftovers would inspire me. And that, they did! I stacked them on top of a bowl of plain couscous that I was keeping for a quick snack/dinner and when I opened my fridge this evening, the combination seemed perfect!

This is a hearty meal, perfect for the type of weather we’ve been seeing here lately – oh, and for those of you not in Montreal, just picture the most disgusting wintery mix of slush and sleet and ice and everything cold and wet that you can muster, and you’ve got a pretty accurate representation of our outdoor conditions. So here, I present to you, Couscous with Kale and Feta.

Cousous with Kale and Feta
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 bunch kale, finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese*
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 cup plain couscous, cooked according to package directions
Kalamata olives for garnish, if desired

how to do it
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (Do not fill all the way to top as you need room for the kale!) Toss in kale and garlic, until kale becomes bright green (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and drain well. toss into large skillet brushed with olive oil, and heat over medium until mixture begins to reduce and water is almost all evaporated. Add mint, oregano and cinnamon, mixing well. Add the couscous to the pan, a little at a time, until it is all combined. Add feta just before serving. Garnish with olives, and another drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!

*If you can find it, buy yourself some feta marinated in oil. There is a brand called Apetina that is in my opinion the tastiest feta that you can get at a conventional grocery store. If not, go to the cheese counter and ask for Greek feta, Goat feta, or Double Cream feta. (If you’re in Montreal, the absolute best place to get your feta is Adonis!)